Gaslighting: ‘I was so convinced I was always wrong that I couldn't confront him with evidence of his cheating’
When YOU intern Cher Peterson fell head-over-heels in love with *Blayze, she believed it was true love. But a couple of months into their relationship Blayze started acting strangely – which made Cher wonder if he was cheating on her.
Lexico defines the term gaslighting as emotionally manipulating someone into questioning their own sanity. The term originates in the systematic psychological manipulation of a victim by her husband in the 1938 stage play Gas Light, according to Wikipedia.
After months of experiencing intense paranoia – intensified by the fact that Blayze was gaslighting her – she was devastated to learn that her intuition had been right all along. Blayze was hooking up with his ex behind her back.
This is her story.
“It’s hard to find the ability to trust yourself again once you’ve found yourself in a situation where you’ve been a victim of gaslighting.
“Gaslighting is by no means a new phenomenon – it’s been happening for eons. It can be a tough obstacle to overcome, especially for someone like me, for whom this was a first relationship. I was left battered and bruised by the experience.
“Having never been in a relationship before, I found myself embroiled in a love I thought to be true and wholesome and wholly reciprocal.
“But, looking back, I realise I’d always felt something was wrong. It had to do with his communication with his ex. I would ask constantly for open and honest communication, but all I would receive was vague, half-baked answers about how he was just ‘entertaining’ another woman.
“I was looking for the truth, but he accused me of snooping. He accused me of grasping at straws, saying things like, ‘You’re chasing answers to questions that aren’t real.’
‘Time and time again, I was told until I became slowly convinced that my search for answers was just my own insecurities getting the better of me. It was so close to the truth, I found myself believing it.
“Whenever I come close to the real truth of the matter, I was reprimanded. And the continuous accusations – ‘you’re wrong’, ‘it’s your own fault’ – became an almost reliable experience.
“He had me so convinced and saturated with self-doubt that I’d apologise for asking any questions whatsoever. ‘I’m sorry’ became second nature to me. To this day the habit persists.
“Because the process of gaslighting was so subtle and slow, I began to believe I was delusional. ‘He didn’t do anything wrong,’ I’d tell myself. ‘These doubts are a figment of my imagination.’
“But then I found proof. Whenever I wasn’t around, he’d been seeing his ex. She and I were practically sharing a bed.
“By that time, I’d been so conditioned to believe I was wrong, that I couldn’t bring myself to ask him outright. After all, I already knew what his answers would be. ‘You’re wrong, you’re making it up in your head.’
“No denial, but no admission either. Always the constant casting of doubt on my state of mind and my insecurities.
“In hindsight, I should’ve seen his manipulative nature from the very first day I met him. Those times he’d so easily convinced me to have one more drink, or found ways to make me stay a little longer when he knew I couldn’t.
“I should’ve seen it all, but even then he was chipping away at my self-confidence.
“Even now that I’m free of him, the effects of his emotional manipulation still linger. I’m often still holding myself hostage inside my own mind.
“Only time will tell if I ever fully recover from the psychological damage he did.”
*Not his real name